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chicken stock

I made some chicken stock last night and forgot to put it in the refrigerator, so it stayed out over night. Should I throw it out, or can I save it by boiling for a certain amount of time? Thanks

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  1. I'm sure it's fine but taste and smell it to be sure. I usually leave stock out to cool down completely before I pack it into containers to freeze. And if it's late and I don't want to stay up, it'll sit out overnight. Never had a problem.

    1. Same here. Mine almost always sits out overnight to cool down before I put it in the fridge, and I've been making it for 10 years and haven't gotten sick once.

      1. Throw it out immedietly. It should never be out for more than 2 hours. Boiling it will not kill everything!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Becca Porter

          ... but it takes at least eight hours for it to cool in a refrigerator if put in right off... ? But then, I also return my stock to a simmer before using it in soups and stews...

        2. uh, 3rd vote for cooling at room temp overnight.

          i think americans are very paranoid about refrigeration. if you're worried, boil it then store it. you'll be boiling it again too.

          1. We learn in my chef training classes not to leave any stock out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. Even then it should be held in a bain marie, not at room temperature (the "danger zone").

            I'd throw it out - better safe than sorry.

            1. Listen to Becca, it should be thrown out. I can't account for the two previous poster's luck in not being sick, but it should not sit out for that long at room temperature, microbes can get in there and set up housekeeping. After making stock, I'll let the stockpot sit on a cooling rack for about 15-20 minutes to cool down a bit, then I fill the sink with ice water and put the stockpot in it to cool it down rapidly before refrigerating it overnight. Then the next day I defat it, reduce it, and freeze it.

              1. Chicken stock is perhaps the most fertile base for the cultivation and multiplication of bacteria. The danger zone is between about 45-145 degrees farenheit. Bacteria multiplies exponentially -- in other words, not 2+2+2 but 10x10x10 over three hours. When your stock comes off of the simmer and through the strainer, it is probably still well over 145 degrees. So the secret is to get it cooled down through the danger zone and cooler than 45 degrees very quickly.

                Putting a large (gallon/several quart) container of hot stock in the fridge doesn't work. First, it is too big and dense to cool that quickly. Second, by its heat and bulk it will warm the fridge, thus slowing cooling even more.

                When I make stock, I have several small clean plastic bottles 3/4-filled with tap water frozen in the freezer. The stock is strained from the pot into a stainless steel large bowl preferably placed over ice. Then a couple of the iced bottles go in the middle, and when they melt, a couple of new ones go in. Once the stock is cooled down to lukewarm, it goes into quart or smaller containers and straight into the freezer. Thus the stock coasts down through the danger zone in less than an hour, two at the most. (You have three to four hours, at the outside, to be absolutely safe.)

                Boiling the stock again before using does kill the active bacteria, but it does not rid the product of the toxins that have already been released.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nosh

                  If your plastic bottles are not food grade plastic, you are in danger of them leaching into your food. These plastic bottles are not made to withstand heat.

                  If you are interested in finding the proper plastic bottles for this type of cooling, they best be purchased from a restaurant supply store. Your water bottles from the store are not safe to use.

                2. Thank you for the responses. I have decided to dump it out and start over. Why take the risk!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: budlit

                    That sounds smart. My parents and their friends leave food out all the time and don't think twice about it. One day, someone had a dinner party and everyone came down with food poisoning, bad enough that some people ended up hospitalized. The whole idea that you can see/taste bad bacteria is wrong. I can't imagine how mortified the hosts must have been.

                  2. My wife, who grew up in Belgium, likes to say that when she was young girl, there was always a soup on the stove that her grandmother had started- during the war!- and that they had just been adding to it for years. This is an exaggeration, but my wife still follows this practice to a degree, with a soup boiling and cooling on the stove for days on end - a little celery today, left over lentils tomorrow...
                    When it goes sour you know: there is a sour smell and and often a white foam will start to appear.

                    1. I knew a family that kept a large ham out on the counter for a week, cutting bits off every day to eat.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: budlit

                        There are lots of things that people do and get away with - running into the middle of traffic, for example - doesn't mean it's recommended.

                        1. re: pescatarian

                          Actually if that was a country ham, leaving it out all week wouldn't be a big deal, they're so dry and salty that they are actually hostile to microbes. Somehow I don't think that's the case, though..

                      2. Don't I remember from high school AP Biology that boiling chicken broth for 20 minutes kills everything?

                        I know as a society we use a lot of antibacterial products which some believe may create "super bacteria" that can resist basic defenses--but have bacteria gotton so strong that stock can't sit out to cool? If that were the case, I'd have died after this past weekend's marathon of stock and soup making.

                        The day I pour my stock into individual bottles and quick-chill them is after I retire and have the time (and only if I absolutley must).

                        No disrespect intended to those who have gotten food poisoning from poorly handled dishes. :)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                          Boiling doesn't kill everything, and as was stated upthread, it doesn't destroy toxins that have already been released by bacteria (even if it kills those particular bacteria).

                        2. Glad you threw it out. It wasn't safe. Leaving it out like that is just asking for trouble. Boiling it later will not kill all the bacteria, which, as nosh points out, have multiplied exponentially and now involve SPORES.

                          Here is an interesting thread on the same subject with a great link to a Robert Wolke article which points out why quick cooling of stock is critically important: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35731...

                          1. I can't help but think of the Hygiene Hypothesis that's been around since the late 80's. While mainly applied to atopy (allergies) where it's pretty much been proven that lack of exposure to allergens in the first year of life inhibits the development of immunoregulatory mechanisms, it's been discussed in broader terms. Perhaps our ancestors that lived with bugs in chicken stock developed immunity in ways that we no longer do.

                            We've all met (or perhaps are) people with "iron stomachs" that seem to be able to eat anything without being sick - and conversely, we probably all know someone that even thinks they've had a semi-raw egg and they're sure that they have salmonella poisoning - with all the physical discomforts. I've eaten exactly the same things with a friend, where they swear that they had problems the next day, and I've felt nothing.

                            There's no denying that we have longer life spans today and that's mainly because of advances in our ability to kill and control bacteria. I have no problem with health department regulations forcing restaurants to bleach down their counters.

                            But put into the perpective of risk management, what exactly is the risk of leaving chicken stock to cool overnight? I've probably done it 1,000 times with no ill effect. I'm sure others will chime in with similar numbers. How often does one get a fatal desease from chicken stock left overnight in a pan? Should you not also cross any street? Should you never drive a car on the road?

                            The risk, for a restaurant, is greater because even one incident can cause harm to many people, and that can lead to a drastic effect on reputation and attendance, and even to business failure. But one incident, at home, of some buggy chicken stock, would not keep me from doing it again - that would make it 1,000's to 1.

                            I realize that the argument is, why take the chance? And that's fine - if you have the time and energy every time you make stock to cool it down, fine - you should. But to tell someone - OMG, You left it out overnight! YOU'RE GONNA DIE! THROW IT OUT!! Nahh. I don't think so.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: applehome

                              I think the difference is that you can make a decision for yourself whether you are willing to take the risk, but when someone is asking what they should do, it is not advisable to suggest that they do something that carries quite a risk. No one is saying that the OP is going to die from eating it. Some people are saying that you might be taking the chance of getting very sick and perhaps it's not worth it.

                              1. re: applehome

                                "OMG, You left it out overnight! YOU'RE GONNA DIE! THROW IT OUT!!"

                                I believe you are the only one who has said that.

                              2. I don't leave it out overnight because I know that's not safe. It's not hard to put in the fridge. Of course people leave chix stock out all night and don't get sick. But I don't want to take the chance when it's so easy to avoid.

                                1. Once you have had food poisoning a couple times, you learn to try to follow the rules. Especially when you have kids to take care of, even when you feel like your dying.

                                  As stated above, it is not hard to put a ziploc bag of ice into your stock and sit it in the fridge. If I did not have the fridge space I would wait to make stock.

                                  That said, do what works for you, just do not invite me over for dinner :).

                                  1. Maybe I'm not phobic enough but my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother have often left the chicken soup out on the stove cooling overnight before refrigerating. Many, many, many years and holidays have gone by and nary a family member or guest has been sickened. I have done the same from time to time to no ill effect.

                                    I've always understood that food should be sufficiently cooled before refrigeration as the refrigeration of hot or warm food in itself will cause bacteria to grow. Is that incorrect? I don't know. If you have a very large pot of soup it is going to take a long time to cool properly, possibly overnight.

                                    I think you just tossed a perfectly fine pot of stock but if if you weren't comfortable with it then, to you, it wasn't worth what you perceived as risk.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: laylag

                                      "I've always understood that food should be sufficiently cooled before refrigeration as the refrigeration of hot or warm food in itself will cause bacteria to grow."

                                      That doesn't even make sense.

                                      If you have a large pot of stock you should transfer it to smaller containers for quicker cooling, or better yet either sit it in a sink of ice water, or put bags of ice directly in it. That way the temp cools as quick as possible.

                                      1. re: Becca Porter

                                        "That doesn't even make sense"

                                        Thank you for clearing my head.

                                    2. Immediate refrigeration of hot foods has no negative effects.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        You're right Sam. I just did a little internet research and it seems the hot food in the cold fridge fear is a common misconception. The reason it has been said over and over is that it used to raise the internal temp of the refrigerator potentially risking the safety of rest of the food in there. Today's applicances can handle the hot food without raising the overall temp inside.

                                        In any event, now I don't have to hold the food out although there was a good tip on one site - to immerse the pot in a sink of cold water to cool it more quickly.

                                        I still personally wouldn't worry about the overnight stock on the stove but maybe I'm wrong about that too. Doesn't happen often but lightning actually can strike in the same place twice right? Or is that also wrong? : )

                                      2. I sure would not worry about it and agree with those above that say we are way too afraid of such things in this country. Use it and enjoy.

                                        1. Anyone who is capable of making homemade stock is capable of quick cooling it properly, IMO. If you leave it out overnight on the stove -- knowing that it's being held for hours in the danger zone with bacteria multiplying exponentially -- why bother to refrigerate it at all? This doesn't seem logical to me.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            Both the killing rate and the growth rate of bugs are time and temperature dependent. When killing at 212F, more are killed if held there longer - there are diminishing returns without increasing the temp or the pressure, but the difference between bringing to a boil vs. simering for an hour are significant. Refrigerating stock (or anything else) will slow down the growth rate, even if the bugs have developed until that time. Subsequent simmering over time will kill the great majority of bugs.

                                            This is clearly not a black and white situation, and bacteria and associated toxicity are not things that happen instantaneously and in every situation. I agree with those that said that each person ought to make upt heir own mind as to the risk issues and follow through.

                                            If you don't want to eat at my house, that's certainly fine by me - you will miss some fine food, as I've told some very closed minded people about eating at Chinatown restaurants when they complain about their dirty appearance. To each their own.

                                          2. The spoon that you use to eat your soup (made from the stock) is as likely to make you sick as the stock left out over night. It is requried in restaurants that all utensils be immersed in 170 degree water for thirty seconds or an approved chemical sanitizer for 1 minute. Oh and you have to use a three compartment sink. How many of us do this, or check each time that our dishwashing machine is coming to temp? There are a million ways to get food posioning - common sense must prevail.

                                            1. The greatest chance of contamination of any nutrient rich liquid left out overnight comes from yeast, spores of which are much more likely to be airborne, rather than bacteria. Yeast is the most common pest, and grows much more rapidly than most bacteria.